The term domestic partnership refers to the situation of two people who are living together and are in a romantic relationship. While the two people may live together as man and wife, their relationship has not been legalized via the institution of marriage. In rare cases, domestic partnership is used to refer to the relationship between two individuals wherein one is the legal caretaker of a close relative. Domestic partner benefits refer to the perks that are extended by an employer to the employee’s partner.
Domestic partner benefits vary widely, depending on the employer’s policy. One of the most common kinds of domestic partner benefits is health insurance. When a company offers its employees health insurance - either subsidized or fully paid - it can also extend that benefit to the employees’ domestic partners. It may be that the company pays for the domestic partner’s health insurance premiums, or the amounts may be deducted form the employee’s wages.
Some employers may also treat a domestic partner as a legal spouse in the sense that he or she will be considered a beneficiary with regard to insurance policies accorded to the employee. For example, if the company offers a retirement plan or a life insurance plan to its employees, the domestic partner of an employee will be able to receive insurance payouts in case something happens to the employee.
Another example of a domestic partner benefit is subsidized tuition fees for continuing education programs and the like. If the company offers this perk to its employees, they may chose to extend the same benefit to domestic partners.